Do No Harm: Review: Season 1 Ep 1

DoNoHarmS01E01NBC, 21 January 2013

Surgeon Jason Cole has a secret, a nocturnal alternate personality (the Hyde to his Dr Jeykll) who is out to destroy his life…

New high concept fantasy show Do No Harm already has a rather embarrassing claim to fame: it is the lowest in-season premiere for any scripted dramatic show on the big four US networks ever. Just over three million viewers bothered to find out whether Do No Harm was worth watching or not. Those who stayed away may have had the right idea.

We’ve been here before, with Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat’s take on the Robert Louis Stevenson classic, the idiosyncratic Jeykll in 2007 and, arguably, even with NBC’s own My Own Worst Enemy starring Christian Slater in 2008. At least that bizarre mash up of Stevenson and spy show Alias was quirky fun (and anything with Mädchen Amick in is always worth watching), which is more than can be said for the dour and dumb Do No Harm.

So, given the concept is not bad (it was good enough for Stevenson and countless imitators), just where does this pilot episode go wrong? Firstly, there’s the casting. Lead actor Steven Pasquale has been promoted from second banana parts in other shows, but doesn’t have the charisma to lead a show that requires him to deliver two dramatically contrasting personalities. There was little to distinguish his nocturnal alter-ego from his day time go-getting surgeon, apart from the fact that the night guy loves a party… There’s no mystery to him, and little actual danger or threat, except he’s still in love with Cole’s ex. The other actors—who are often having to deliver ‘As you know, Jeff…’ type dialogue and other info dumps—seem to have been gathered from an LA Am-Dram society, so woeful are the performances.

There’s no mystery about how the hero’s situation may have come about, no hints are dropped, and there’s no sign of any over-reaching storyline. Many shows are criticised for having too much of that saga stuff, but viewers need a reason to commit their time to following an episodic show, and a few good deeds and some alter-ego manipulation ain’t gonna cut it.

There was literally nothing to make anyone who watched the first episode of Do No Harm come back for the second—many viewers reportedly dropped out after just 20 minutes. Will the second show even air? This series deserves to be cancelled more rapidly than just about any other in history, and it’s the show’s own fault.

Verdict: The harm’s already done: this show is dead on arrival

Episode 1 ‘Pilot’: 3/10

Brian J. Robb

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